Impact of electoral volatility and party replacement on voter turnout levels

Joseph W. Robbins, Lance Y. Hunter

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


While elections are viewed as the lynchpin of modern democracies, few works have adequately assessed the role played by political parties in mobilizing voters. Much of the extant work has relied on the number of parties in a party system to estimate the impact on voter turnout; not surprisingly, the voluminous literature on voter turnout has arrived at a theoretical impasse regarding the relationship between party systems and voter turnout. We argue that in order to better understand the relationship between party systems and voter turnout, researchers should consider other relevant party system measures. In particular, several scholars have surmised that party system stability holds numerous implications for democracies, but there has yet to be an empirical analysis of this claim. In this study, we anticipate that lower volatility and replacement rates - both indicating more stable party systems - should have a positive impact on aggregate turnout. Even when including several control variables, the results of our cross-sectional time-series analyses confirm our hypotheses.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)919-939
Number of pages21
JournalParty Politics
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • elections
  • electoral volatility
  • party system institutionalization
  • party systems
  • stability/instability

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science


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